Government of New Brunswick

The true colours behind a tan

While many people like to tan because they feel it is attractive, what they don’t know is that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada. What’s more, melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer - one of the most common cancers in teens and young adults aged 15-29. Melanoma is one of a handful of cancers where the incidence among Canadians continues to increase; by 1.6% a year in men and by 1% a year in women. Excessive ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure from the sun and from tanning beds plays a leading role in the development of melanoma and is the most preventable cause of this disease.

Some modern tanning beds emit 3 to 5 times the intensity of ultraviolet radiation as the mid-day sun.  Using a tanning bed before the age of 30 will increase by 75% your risk of melanoma.. Who knew?

A few terms defined:

UVA (Ultraviolet A): damages the base layer of the skin and has carcinogenic properties. UVA may initiate skin cancer as well as enhance the signs of aging.

UVB (Ultraviolet B):  affects the surface of the skin and is responsible for vitamin D synthesis. UVB is mostly responsible for reddening and burns of the skin.

SPF: Sun Protection Factor

Tanning in numbers (Canada)

5,300 Number of people affected by melanoma in 2010
75,000 Number of new cases from non-melanoma skin cancers that were expected in 2010
7 Melanoma is now the 7th most frequent cancer in Canada
1990 Canadian’s born in the 1990’s have a two to three times higher risk of getting skin cancer in their lifetime compared to those born in the 1960’s.